Friday, August 2, 2013

More Clues About the Fountain

This morning, Paul Barrett discovered a reference to the Hudson-Fulton fountain, which, while it doesn't explain what happened to the fountain, gives some background for understanding the comment about fountains and bars reported in the newspaper item quoted on Monday: "I told the Chairman to meet me at the fountain," said one of the members. "'Well, if you did,' said a man who is often seen about the Court House, 'you will find him in the bar.'"

In 1913, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Columbia County held its twenty-ninth annual convention at the First Methodist Church in Hudson. During the two-day gathering, one of the topics of discussion was the need for public drinking fountains--especially in Hudson--so that the thirsty wouldn't have to go into bars and saloons to quench their thirst.

It turns out this was a national initiative. The WCTU website explains: "At the 1874 organizing convention of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the members were urged to erect drinking fountains in their towns so that men could get a drink of water without entering saloons and staying for stronger drinks. Often the drinking fountains that were erected offered a place for horses for drink, another place for dogs, and of course, a place for humans to drink."

Fountains from this era survive all over the country, and the WCTU website maintains an inventory of these fountains that grows as more are discovered. These are a few examples.

Petaluma, CA--erected 1891
Coudersport, PA--erected 1903
Spring Lake, MI--erected 1910
Atlanta, GA--erected 1923

At the 1913 convention in Hudson, the Hudson-Fulton fountain came up in the discussion of the need for public drinking fountains. The following report from the convention appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for October 16, 1913:
The president also mentioned the ridicule that was bestowed on the fountain that was once situated near the Court House, and which was afterward presented to the city by the Daughters of the American Revolution. "These women suffered humiliation in erecting that fountain, not to mention the expense, etc., and they felt very bad when it was ridiculed to such an extent." Mrs. Snyder said "she trusted that if anything like that should again grace our city, it wouldn't be laughed at."
It's still not clear why the Hudson-Fulton fountain, created by H. K. Bush-Brown, a sculptor of no small reputation, was the object of such derision.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't time Hudson erects a monument to it's namesake, Henry Hudson?